How to tap social media for business success, especially for SMEs
BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2017 - 4:00pm

Can we in the Philippines tap our many advantages in social media for business and professional success as individuals, entrepreneurs, small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) or professionals, instead of just utilizing social media time mostly for entertainment and socializing?

It has been said that the Philippines was an early adopter of SMS messaging or texting, and now we lead in the use of social media such as Facebook, etc. But some claim much of our time spent on the internet is mainly for trivial entertainment or socializing purposes. We have creative energy and artistic versatility in the Philippines as competitive advantages, plus our still strong command of the global language of English, which can and should help us harness business and professional successes worldwide.

Of course, in politics, social media and blogs have become vastly influential and helped catapult popular Davao Mayor Rody R. Duterte into the presidency.

According to a January 2017 report by social media management platform Hootsuite and United Kingdom-based consultancy We Are Social Ltd. called “Digital in 2017,” Filipinos are the world’s No. 1 in terms of time spent on social media, spending an average of four hours and 17 minutes per day on social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. (No. 2 is Brazil at three hours and 43 minutes, followed by Argentina at three hours and 32 minutes.)

Donald Trump’s America is among the lower half of the global list, averaging two hours and six seconds per day, while the rock bottom in this list is Japan whose people use social media only an average of 40 minutes per day.

Based on my research using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, here are some suggested social media strategies for better business and professional success:

Create Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Whether for your SME venture as a retail shop, trading firm, factory, resort or spa, whether for your professional practice as an accountant, dentist, lawyer, interior designer, makeup artist or graphic designer, creating and constantly maintaining social media accounts can boost your revenues. 

When I bought a real estate property in a quiet street of Quezon City three years ago and just decided — out of sheer fun — to revive a money-losing and dormant old business on this property, I used my personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter social media accounts to post daily images — plus some business policy changes. It somehow brought this once-bankrupt old business back to unexpected life. It is only now that I plan to seriously revamp and strategize expansion of this “accidental business.”

Sell nationwide, export to the world. Whether pitching products or services, social media is an amazing way to promote our business or profession across national and foreign markets. Social media have become seemingly more effective than using traditional websites alone.

Build up brand identity and image. From biggest companies to small, agile SMEs with good social media presence contribute to overall positive brand identity and public perception.

Monitor brand mentions. Being active in various social media platforms can help us monitor social media mentions — whether positive or not — so we can quickly respond and adjust.

Enhance brand loyalty and community. More and more businesses rely on good social media accounts to promote brand loyalty among their consumers and also to build communities of customers.

Monitor competitors. The ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu in his classic work Art of War said: “Know ourselves and know our rivals, and in 100 battles we shall achieve 100 victories.” One very efficient and constant way to keep track of competitors or even potential rivals is via social media; study them to preempt and avoid their errors or to learn from them.

Communicate with customers. It is delightful and effective for SMEs to directly and quickly communicate with customers through Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram or Twitter, beneficial for both the business and the consumers.

Network with other SMEs or professionals. Joining communities on social media or reaching out to peers and others via social media is a very cost-effective way to network with industry colleagues, friendly competitors, suppliers, contractors, etc. in our domestic market or globally.

Improve “word of mouth” buzz. Social media can help improve the proverbial “word of mouth” buzz that is so important for many businesses or professions.

Study industry trends. Social media, especially Twitter, is a very good way to keep abreast of and analyze one’s industry sector, ongoing trends and future prospects.

Market research. SME marketing people, NGOs or governments can utilize social media to feel the pulse of the people or target markets, for various kinds of market research.

Keep authenticity, honesty in social media. Like in all aspects of life and business or professions, we should maintain and boost authenticity or sincerity — and especially truthfulness — in all our social media engagements.

View social media as vehicle, not a destination. We shouldn’t mistake success or popularity in social media as the end in itself, but should always remind ourselves that social media is a tool or vehicle to achieve our business or professional objectives.

Great social media marketing cannot overcome bad quality or high prices. Eventually, the key to real and sustainable business, professional, NGO or political successes is still the product or service we can offer to the public in a consistent way. We shouldn’t forget that like in any marketing efforts, we’re only as good or as great as the genuine quality and appropriate price of our products or services. The social media only support, enhance our business or professional services, so we should always seek good quality, good pricing strategy and consistency.

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Thanks for your feedback! Email or Follow @wilsonleeflores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, read my blog Listen also to my radio show at Radio Veritas Mondays to Fridays 5:30 p.m., AM 846 kHz, online livestream & Cignal TV channel 313, “Pandesal Forum sa Veritas.”

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